Tonight at International Market Square, the Advertising Federation of Minnesota 1985 Silver Medal Award will be presented to Rolland R. “Ron” Anderson, President of Bozell & Jacobs/Midwest.
This annual award recognizes a lifetime of achievement in advertising, a significant contribution to one’s company, a distinct creative ability, and an outstanding community service record.
Ron Anderson not only exemplifies those criteria, he “gives stature and distinction to the award,” a colleague said.
“Ron is largely responsible for putting the Twin Cities on the map as a creative community” is the opinion shared by colleagues and competitors alike, and pretty remarkable in a field where egos often rule the day.
“Ron has done more than anyone I can think of to elevate the standards of advertising in the Twin Cities,” said Lee Lynch of Carmichael-Lynch. “He is terribly professional and a premier art director by national standards. He’s truly awesome and I look forward to his promotion to president of Bozell & Jacobs nationally, so he’ll move the hell out of town. I’ll even buy the one-way ticket for him.”
Ken Oelschlager of Kerker & Associates says, “Ron is genuinely dedicated to the cause of Twin Cities advertising, and not only is he a superior art director, he’s a great strategist. He truly understands all aspects of advertising and the round-table symbolism of the industry.
”He is huggable—physically, creatively, and spiritually.”
In addition to being admired and respected for his outstanding creative talent, Ron is known for being a caring generous, patient, loving man who thinks highly of others, believes in their abilities and is able to bring out the best in them.
Ron’s first goal was to become a first-class illustrator—the next Norman Rockwell. One of his first jobs was as a board artist at an in-house department in Wichita. Realizing his growth potential was limited there, he decided to make a move to Minneapolis, kind of a “stepping stone” on his way to New York. Little did he realize he would fall in love with the state and its people and make it his lifetime home.
In Minneapolis, he joined the now-defunct Knox Reeves agency as an art director and discovered the power of concepts, of ideas and of writing. In fact, Ron switched to copywriter for a year, writing television commercials for clients such as Alberto-Culver.
Next, with both disciplines under his belt, he was named Creative Department Manager. But found he did not like being so far removed from the conceptual process. Shortly, he became Creative Director.
It was during this time that Ron took a chance on some young, unproven talent. People like Sue Crolick, Tom McElligott, Nancy Rice, Ron Sackett, and Rick Dublin.
“Ron’s biggest contribution to the ad community has been his belief in young talent, helping them get started, allowing them to fail, and providing support and encouragement,” says Sue Crolick. When Ron hired Sue, female art directors were unheard of. Sue vividly remembers the day he told her she “was doing a real good job,” and he was “very pleased with her work.”
“It meant so much to me,” she says, “I still remember where I was standing.”
Nancy Rice says, “Ron hired me when I was twelve (or thereabouts). I was just out of art school. He was always so positive. He would give you as much as you could handle–if you showed initiative. He took a chance on me. I’ll never forget that.”
“Ron gave me my start—he kids me about it, too,” says Rick Dublin. “He’s terrific. He’ll always give you the benefit of the doubt and trust your judgement.”
When the venerable Knox Reeves lost its biggest client, General Mills, Ron Anderson and David Bell (now President of Bozell & Jacobs/Atlantic Division) bought the agency and struggled to maintain it, keeping some of the promising young talent.
Sue Crolick says, “Ron was so feisty during that time, he made a point to be visible, not to be beaten. He was strong. And determined. I remember one Art Directors’ Club meeting where everyone was gossiping. Instead of disappearing, Ron met it head-on. With a positive attitude. And a smile on his face.”
In the mid-seventies, Anderson and Bell were approached by Bozell & Jacobs, who were looking to open a Minneapolis shop. The pair saw a chance to be play on a much bigger stage and in 1974, Knox Reeves merged with B&J.
Around this time, the legendary “Lunch Hour Limited” freelance team of Ron Anderson and Tom McElligott was formed. In the next several years, “Lunch Hour Limited” won more awards than most regular agencies in America. The partnership dissolved when Fallon McElligott Rice was launched in 1981.
Tom McElligott is emphatic, “I think the world of Ron. I miss him terribly. I consider him a great friend.”
“I wasn’t always the easiest guy to manage. Yet Ron was always patient, kind and wise,” McElligott continued. “He is one of the really great creative art directors in the country.”
Last December Ron was made President of Bozeell & Jacobs/Midwest. He is now responsible for three offices and over $200 million in billings. Ron is one of the few art directors who have risen to the top. So does he miss being at the drawing board?
“I do. Because that’s what I’m good at. I know that job,” Ron says. “But I also get tremendous satisfaction out of seeing others develop and succeed. This is a young people‘s business. You need drive, energy and smarts. My job now is to help people grow and reach their goals.”
Written by Kris Vanstrum in the summer of 1985
FYI, the AAF Silver Medal Award is presented to those who make outstanding contributions to our industry and help advance high standards of advertising, creative excellence, and responsibility in areas of social concern. In the years since Ron received this distinguished award, a few of “Ron’s Kids” did, too. Including Sue Crolick, Tom McElligott and Bob Barrie.